By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
---- — The past week’s heavy rainfall in Howard and Tipton counties is having an impact on the local agricultural community.
Parts of the two counties have received between 2 and 8 inches of rain during the storms that passed through the area last Sunday and Wednesday. The National Weather Service is predicting scattered showers for this weekend and into Monday.
The question is whether the crops will survive, Bob Nielson, an agronomist with Purdue University, said Friday.
Nielson said if water is standing in fields for four or five days, the plants will probably not survive.
“It’s probably not a surprise to the growers where there are low-lying fields,” he said. “It’s frustrating to them.”
Nielson said some growers will experience lower yields because of the standing water.
“It’s a wait and see,” he said. “In fields with good tile drainage the plants may survive. Fields that will not drain, the crops will have to be replanted.”
Nielson said growers have until July 4 to replant soybeans and still produce a crop. He said for corn, it will be risky to plant again this year.
“It could take a couple of weeks for the fields to dry enough for the farmers to get back into the fields,” he said.
Tipton County farmer Kip Bergman said portions of his fields received 2 inches of rain and others received more than 6 inches of precipitation.
“I will replant mostly beans,” he said. “It’s too late for corn. The corn may not be hurt if the water didn’t get above the top of the plant.”
Bergman said area farmers need an extended period of warm weather to overcome the moist conditions.
“I purchased a ditch machine in 1998 and have been aggressive in installing drainage tile on my farm,” he said. “It has paid off dramatically.”
Kent Chism, who farms along the Howard and Cass county line, said the water is starting to leave the fields and the drainage ditches are full.
“We’ve had enough for a little bit,” he said of the rain. “We don’t want it totally shut off just yet.”
Chism said it will take another day or two for the fields to dry out enough to inspect the crops.
He said it was possible soybeans would be replanted.
“We’ll wait and see what it looks like,” Chism said. “We don’t want to throw in the towel. There will be some recovery.”
“The cooler weather of the past few days helped when the fields were covered with water, but warmer weather is now needed,” he said.
Larry Harper, who farms in eastern Tipton County, said it will be a few more days before the damage to the crops can be determined.
“The cooler weather will help,” he said. “We will lose some crops. We replant a little bit every year.”
Harper agreed it’s probably too late to replant corn and it would be a risk to do so at this point.
“Most of corn is a little taller and has a chance of surviving,” he said.
Harper said he spends money every year to improve drainage on the acreage he farms.
“North of (Ind.) 28 drains better than south of 28,” he said. “We were fortunate that the 4-inch rain missed the fields south of 28. There is still a lot of water standing in the fields.”